News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
(ANF) An international campaign will be launched to collect signatures for Kurdish journalists imprisoned in Turkey for the past two years. The President of the European Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, has given his support to the campaign. In a text released to announce the start of the campaign the trial against the journalists is called “the biggest journalism trial in history.”
The journalists were arrested on December 20th, 2011 in a major police operation against Kurdish media organizations, including Azadiya Welat, Özgür Gündem, DİHA, ANF, Fırat Dağıtım and Demokratik Modernite. They were accused of being connected to the “KCK Press Committee,” as a part of the KCK cases that have targeted all levels of Kurdish political and civil society. On September 10th, 2012 the trial began for 46 journalists indicted journalists, 36 of whom were in prison at the time. Today 19 Kurdish journalists remain in prison.
According to DİHA, Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Aydın Engin, Ahmet Hakan, Ece Temelkuran, Eren Keskin, Hasan Cemal, Hüseyin Aykol, Kadri Gürsel, Murathan Mungan, Nadire Mater, Nuray Mert, Oral Çalışlar, Pınar Öğünç, Ragıp Duran, Ragıp Zarakolu, Tarhan Erdem, Tuğrul Eryılmaz and Yıldırım Türker, together will IFJ President Bjerregård, have publicly backed the campaign. The signature campaign is set to begin in the coming days. The timing of the campaign is set to correspond with the resumption of the trial on January, 13th.
The text of the announcement of the campaign is reported to read:
“On December 20th, 2011 police launched a series of coordinated operations – named “the KCK Press” operation – in which 46 journalists were arrested in raids on media organizations and private homes. The organizations that were targeted were those organs working to continue the tradition of a free press in the area of Kurdish media, and those arrested who individuals working in Kurdish media. It has started as the biggest journalism trial in history. Arrested individuals were targeted for ‘being an opposition, for showing what is not being see and writing what is not being written.’ 36 Kurdish journalists were taken into custody. Six months later an indictment was delivered that listed their journalistic endeavours as ‘criminal evidence.’
“19 of these journalists are still in prison. For more than two years, while they have not be free, our right to receive real news has been diminishing. In the same way that in 1994 when Özgür Ülke was bombed imprisoned journalists came out with headlines such as ‘this fire will also burn you’ and responded by saying ‘you also need freedom,’ everyone needs these journalists and they are once again speaking out through us to say: freedom of thought, democracy and freedom for everyone…
“The imprisoned journalists will appear before a judge once more on January 13th. We who know that without the freedom of thought and expression democracy and freedom are impossible affirm that we are together with the imprisoned journalists and that the practice of journalism does not constitute a ‘crime,’ and we demand freedom for the imprisoned journalists.”
Sedat Yılmaz, a founding member of the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) and the editor of Özgür Gündem, explained the reasons for the campaign, saying “we have started a campaign so that we do not allow our friends – who are paying the price for Turkey’s anti-democratic structure and backward, racist sense of freedom of expression – to be forgotten. The case against our friends now on trial continues. The secret of the dead-end and the fight that Turkey finds itself in today is hidden in the trial. Turkey is experiencing these crises as a result of the state that a remedy to the Kurdish issue has taken.”
Yılmaz continued, “Our friends who are working for a solution to the Kurdish issue with the pen and freedom of thought have been taken hostage as a result of a fight between the deep state and the parallel state that has nothing to do with them.” Yılmaz stressed that the campaign was designed to raise public support and awareness for the journalists and their struggle.
The names of the imprisoned journalists are as followed: Semiha Alankuş, Ayşe Oyman, Nahide Ermiş, Dilek Demiral, Sibel Güler, Nevin Erdemir, Yüksel Genç, Kenan Kırkaya, Mazlum Özdemir, Ertuş Bozkurt, Mehmet Emin Yıldırım, Turabi Kişin, Nurettin Fırat, Hüseyin Deniz, Haydar Tekin, Şehmus Fidan, Davut Uçar, Ramazan Peköz ve Mikail Barut.